Friday, June 24, 2011

Pie Crust

There's an old saying that states, "Promises are like pie crusts: they're easily made and easily broken."

If that first part was only true! Seems like some that are "easily made" take a hammer and a strong arm to break. (Or at least a good serrated knife to saw through!) The art of the perfect crust has escaped many a home cook and made the people who stock their wares in the refrigerated cases reason to smile. I will admit that the refrigerated pie doughs are pretty good if you don't mind a list of ingredients on the box that you can't pronounce let alone decide may not belong in your diet.

I will also admit that some of my pie crusts have turned out pretty disastrous. Either not getting the fat cut in properly (which made it melt into a lardy gooey mess in places) or I overworked the dough which made it like the crust I described above, something that made the diner work for his mouthful.

This past Friday I achieved what I consider my best crust yet. I think by closely following a few variables, a great pie crust can be made by the home cook that puts the pre-made circles in the red box to shame.

The first clue to making a good flaky crust is temperature. Your ingredients must be cold. Some bakers will take this so far as to put their flour, bowls and utensils in the freezer. No, I'm serious.
I won't mention any names but I just received an email from a renown American chef who suggested that the secret to a perfect crust is an ice-cold box grater and a stick of butter fresh from the freezer. Here's the recipe for the crust I made. Yes, I do keep my fat in the freezer and water very cold but that's where it ends.

Pie Crust For A Double-Crust Pie
3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
Pinch of salt
8 ounces lard (kept in the freezer)
1/2 cup ice water (I put it in the freezer for a few minutes just until it starts to form crystals)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour and salt a few times just to mix them.
Cut up lard into tablespoon-size pieces and add.
Pulse just enough to incorporate them. About 10 or 11 1-second pulses.
Add lemon juice to ice water.
Pulse and pour water in in a stream just until dough starts to come together.
Remove from processor, force together into a ball. Divide into two discs (one slightly larger than the other), wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.
When you are ready to bake your pie, roll out the larger piece, place in pie pan and return to refrigerator .
Roll out second disc (this will be the top) and place on cookie sheet and place in freezer.
Remove pie plate from freezer and fill.
Remove second crust from freezer and top pie. Trim, crimp and bake as usual.

No comments:

Post a Comment